Let’s learn more about your Blood Pressure. Since the arteries and veins are part of the cardiac system the B/P reading is one of the areas that people with anxiety tend to focus on. Many I know, spend hours of concern about what reading they get on their at home blood pressure monitoring devices. So, let us delve right in and learn a little about why the B/P changes and what causes it to change. Let me start by saying this, the B/P is supposed to fluctuate sometimes hour to hour sometimes minute to minute. I would be more concerned about a B/ P that does not change.
I like to use a garden hose as an example if you clamp off a hose and then let it go the pressure that starts the stream is the pressure as it leaves the heart. Or the systolic pressure the top number. Caused by the contraction of the heart. If you think of the same hose with the water running the diastolic pressure, the lower number is the pressure when the heart is in a relaxed state. This is way too simple, but it may help some understand.
A physician, or a Cardiologist can answer any of your concerns, but I hope to at least give you the basics.
People can get preoccupied with a number here and a number there lets take away some of the mysteries. Here is a list of things that can influence your B/P.
- Anxiety, Emotional upset, worry, stress
- Many meds including contraceptives, decongestants (pharmacists can do a med review but you must tell the EVERYTHING you take)
- Caffeine, smoking
- Herbal supplement
- Sodium – fast food eating out chips many processed foods
- Temperature yours’s and external
- Activity and exercises
For some people after anxiety the body is fatigued, and they may see it lower. This happens as a normal response. Some people have slightly lower pressure in the evening or at bedtime and it is referred to as dipping. Others, non dippers, do not, often African Americans fall into this category.
I hope you are getting the idea that that body is pretty cool, and it takes cares of so much so that we do not have to. All the body systems work together to check and balance just about everything we need. We of course are responsible to try and keep it functioning as it was intended. Getting on top of stress and anxiety is a good way to do this.
Let me continue because there is more.
- Time of day
- Your fluid volume
- Your position, sitting, standing, lying (what position), legs crossed, position of arm…
- Pain or new injuries
- Before or after meds, alcohol, smoking….
- Thick clothing, or sleeve rolled up tight…
One more thing that is especially important for someone with panic and anxiety disorder to understand. Your oxygenation / breathing can influence your B/P so of course with a panic or anxiety attack it will most likely raise as it is intended to.
As if you were surrounded by Ninja warriors ready to attack- fight or flight.
Now you have an idea that many things can alter the B/P and it does because it automatically adjusts to many circumstances. However, I will warn you about- user error. The B/P cuff must be accurate. It must be applied correctly the little arrow must align with the underlying artery be it the upper arm the wrist or even the foot can work. But it must be on correctly. It must be the correct size cuff or the readings will be inaccurate A sleeve rolled up to tight above the cuff or bulky clothing can influence the reading. Bare skin with no restriction is best. If you are talking, texting, worrying, the B/P can be influenced. You should sit straight, legs Not crossed feet flat on the ground, and cuff at heart level. Yes, all these things make a difference.
Think that covers enough for today. Here is some food for thought.
Example: One of the most amazing processes in the world takes place all by itself! A fertilized egg becomes a baby. They spend 9 months all body systems working on their own we do not question what is happening it just does, and that same marvel of nature continues to work as they grow and learn to walk and talk.
Nugget: There is no need to micromanage that which nature intended when you have been given a clean bill of health form a complete physical. The body reacts as in panic and anxiety, to the adrenaline, the cortisol the glucose etc. the way it was intended to fight or flight. We just have to find ways to take back control and one of the keys is to understand the what’s and whys.